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Intuition, authenticity, anxiety and creativity

Posted Sep 20 2012 10:56pm

Many actors, writers and other artists talk about using their intuition, about exploring identity and being authentic, and how fear and anxiety impacts their creative expression.

Writer and director Cameron Crowe had a conversation with Emma Stone, covering some of these topics. Here are a few excerpts.


Cameron Crowe: “Do you have a little voice inside you that you trust?”

Emma Stone: “Yeah, definitely. The gut—that’s the loudest speaker. My gut never stops talking to me—unless I’m really tired with jet lag. That throws it off a little bit.”

Crowe: “What does that voice sound like?”

Stone: “Like a little old man shouting things out—’You need to go here.’ ‘You need to be with this person.’ ‘You need to experience this.’ It’s really definitive. I hear it on a daily basis, but I have flashes where it’s like a punch in the gut and I just know something.”


Crowe: “You said something about Taylor Swift that I thought was interesting. You said that knowing her, you realized that her fans know the real her—that nobody is kidding anybody—and that you felt like the Taylor that she puts out there in her music is worth believing in.”

Stone: “Well, Taylor is a musician who does things under her own name and tells her own stories—her songs and her albums are her. Whereas I’m playing characters, so that kind of authenticity of self in this job is a little bit different. A lot of times I feel like people come up to me because they think I’m like my character in Easy A, or because they’ve seen me in interviews, but really what they’re a fan of is a movie or a character.”

On being interviewed

Stone commented, “In general I get nervous when I do print interviews because I know that whatever I say is going to be shown through the lens of whomever I’m talking to. So I’ve read a lot of different versions of myself—and all of them are true because it’s all opinion and they’re as accurate as it can ever be. But I don’t think that I’ve been deft at hiding parts of my personality.

“I have not mentioned parts of my life, for sure—although I have talked about my childhood more now and anxiety and that side of myself. I don’t think that people would expect that I would have panic attacks . . . Or I don’t know if they would, because I don’t know what people expect of me. I have no idea.”

From Interview magazine , Sept. 2012


Emma Stone experienced her first panic attack at 8 years old and spent two years in therapy. She says, “I was just kind of immobilized by [anxiety]. I didn’t want to go to my friends’ houses or hang out with anybody, and nobody really understood.”

She found that improv comedy, starting at age 11, gave her “a sense of purpose. I wanted to make people laugh. Comedy was my sport. It taught me how to roll with the punches.” [The Sunday Times (U.K.) via The Week mag. June 28, 2012]

Read more quotes by talented actors about their stage fright and other forms of anxiety, including Edie Falco, Hugh Grant, Alison Pill, Helena Bonham Carter, Colin Firth and others, in the article Celebrities with anxiety and panic attacks .

Using and struggling with intuition

Actor Tom Wilkinson commented on deciding which roles to take: “You just follow your nose. You ask those simple really instinctive questions like you know: Can I shine in this role?, Can I do this role better than anybody in the world?, Is there something in it that I recognize?…

“Its really not to do with the money, or the director, or the other members of the cast. The first simple thing is: Am I going to enjoy playing this character?… It’s a purely instinctive decision.” []

Another of my favorite actors - Kim Basinger – said, “I feel there are two people inside me – me and my intuition. If I go against her, she’ll screw me every time, and if I follow her, we get along quite nicely.”

Many other artists talk about using intuitive guidance in their work and lives. But it can be a challenge for people who are predominantly intellectual to acknowledge and make use of intuition.

Linda Kreger Silverman, Ph.D. (of the Gifted Development Center) notes, “Individuals with higher intelligence are likely to be well educated. Higher education indoctrinates students to think logically and skeptically and to dismiss intuitive information.

“Scientific evidence and logical argument are considered legitimate, whereas intuitive knowing and higher wisdom are relegated to the realm of superstition. It is difficult for highly educated, gifted adults to trust their intuitive insights…”

From post: Wrestling with our intuition .

Related post: Developing Creativity, Intuition, Rapid Cognition .

[Photo: women engineering students at Brown - from post Smart teens and sex .]

“You can’t be yourself because you’re always being judged.”

That is a line from the movie “Ellie Parker” about an actress trying to get a start in Los Angeles, played by Naomi Watts, who also produced the film.

Watts commented about the authenticity of the film in an interview, noting that Scott Coffey, the film’s director was, like Watts herself, “a struggling actor for many years as well and he’d gone through years of those horrible auditions, losing your dignity and being told who you are and believing it because of your self-esteem levels.”

From post: Building identity – Naomi Watts on the struggle for integrity [on my Inner Actor site].

Also see multiple .


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